ACL labels drag show in Sydney’s Pitt St Mall “pornography”

The Australian Christian Lobby has raised concerns about shopping centre company Westfield hosting a drag show in Sydney’s Pitt Street Mall.

Drag performer Maxi Shield and friends are set to give a lunchtime performance on Friday, the day before the 40th Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Wendy Francis, head of the Australian Christian Lobby’s Centre for Human Dignity, has called for the show to be canceled saying it is likely to be a “highly sexualised performance” and part of the “pornification” of Australian society.

Francis said a drag performance in public was part of a “disturbing pattern” which saw adult concepts not only being allowed but promoted as occurring in public spaces.

“It has become increasingly difficult, if not absolutely impossible, to live a life free from pornographic concepts and imagery. ” Francis said on her website.

“Our children should be protected from the incessant sexual exposure that corporates and the porn industry perpetuate.  They are not simply consumers, they are precious young children who need time to form their own minds and we must allow them to grow to maturity before subjecting them with adult concepts.” Francis said.

Francis said Westfield’s promotion of the show could only be described as “sexually explicit”.  Following the ACL’s  call for action, the shopping centre’s Facebook page has received several posts rallying against the performance.

Former head of the Australian Christian Lobby, Lyle Shelton said the performance was a case of “porn and big business” getting together. Shelton, who is now the national spokesperson for Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives party, stepped down from his role at the ACL earlier this month.

Men dressed as women is certainly not a rarity in Westfield Shopping Centres, Australian entertainment icon Dame Edna Everage is one of the company’s promotional ambassadors, and her image is displayed on video screens throughout their centre’s across Australia.

A spokesperson for Westfied told OUTinPerth that they’d decided to include a drag performance because Mardi Gras is a major cultural event in Sydney.

“The performance will be an interpretation of a ‘drag’ show that’s fairly in line with similar popular culture productions, in celebration of the 40th anniversary of Mardi Gras. As a major event on Sydney’s cultural calendar we’ve elected to include this on our entertainment program at Westfield Sydney.” the spokesperson said.

Drag performances in the city in the lead up to Mardi Gras are hardly ground breaking, in previous years drag performances have been held in the World Square complex during the Mardi Gras season.

Perth’s Hay Street Mall has certainly seen some drag action, local drag star Scarlet Adams strutted down the mall in the video for Tail Lights by Wasteland and Melina Cortez.  

Graeme Watson, OUTinPerth reached out to Maxi Shield for comment. Update: 28-01-18 3:28 comment from Westfield added to the story.  

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